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We love Halloween! It’s one of the most uniquely American holidays, in no small part because it has evolved from a variety of traditions imported from around the world. We can thank the ancient Celts for the tradition of dressing in spooky costumes — their harvest festival, the Gaelic harvest festival Samhain was a time when the wall between the corporeal world and that of the spirits became permeable. Costumes were used to confuse the spirits.

From this same source we inherit the practice of mumming or guising, in which revelers dressed as the aos sí, the souls of the dead, would visit homes and perform to receive treats as an offering to the dead. In England this became known as souling, when mostly poor people would ask for food in exchange for saying prayers for the dead. Thanksgiving begging became a tradition here in America, but largely disappeared during the Depression. After World War II trick or treating was introduced to children at least in part to occupy them so they wouldn’t play Halloween pranks along the lines of Scotland’s Cabbage Day, on which spoiled produce was tossed at homes.

As the Catholic Church began to replace pagan celebrations such as Samhain with its own liturgical calendar, a three day celebration of the saints and remembrance of the recently lost called Hallowmas became the setting for these activities. It’s first night, All Hallows Eve, soon became Halloween.

The story of Jack of the Lantern also travelled across the Atlantic to find a home here in America — only instead of keeping his burning coal in a carved turnip, Jack used a pumpkin. The pumpkin, like all squashes, is an ancient New World food, believed to have first been cultivated in Mexico between 5,000 BC and 7,000 BC. It was the first of the foundational “Three sisters” — squash, beans, corn — of ancient Mesoamerican agriculture.

Our family carved our jack o’ lanterns last night!

Of course the real appeal of the holiday for our kids is the candy. According to the internet, Americans spend more than $2 billion on Halloween, most of that in the form of chocolate and *shudder* candy corn. Its worth noting that the fear of poisoned candy is almost entirely unfounded. Only a handful of cases exist — most famously that of Ronald Clark O’Bryan, who poisoned his son with cyanide in a pixie stick in hopes of collecting insurance money. O’Bryan attempted to cover up his horrible crime by distributing the poison to his daughter and three other children, but only eight-year-old Timothy ate his pixie stick. After a lengthy investigation, O’Bryan was charged, convicted and ultimately executed by the state of Texas. He is the subject of the song “Candyman” by Siouxsie and the Banshees.

We’ll have some safe delicious candy in the record shop today. Costumes are welcome but not required. We’ve also got a couple copies of the Hymies Halloween mix CD left, which includes great songs like the Fortunes’ “Ghoul in School,” heard above.

Future Songs, the fourth release by Nightosaur, is the band’s shortest release. The four song EP out this week finds the power trio sounding bigger and better than ever before. Moving further into the progressive territory forged by their 2014 LP Set Fire to the Mountain, the new EP, available on cassette, draws in favorite elements of metal and classic rock as well. These four new songs by the band we have long declared “the funneest band working in the city of Minneapolis” kick ass.

 

“Follow Me” provides a perfect fusion of prog and sludge, plodding joyfully into the dark with the EP’s heaviest headbanging riffs and fist pumping chorus. Bassist John Henry Nightopian role has expanded extensively in these new songs, sounding here not just like John Entwistle but like P-Funk’s Cordell Mosson as well. Drummer Brad Schwab likewise offers more than ever before on these new songs. He is a musical drummer in the sense that his playing does far more than merely keep time, although he does this with confidence through complex arrangements. providing for instance a sense of tension in the EP’s closer, “Doing me Wonders.” 

Nightosaur is very much the vision of Andy Webber, songwriter and luthier (checkout Whalehazard Guitars) and this accounts for the band’s incorporation of a classic power pop sensibility to their songs. Its impossible to describe this band to a friend without talking about the cathartic nature of their music — the volume, the riffs, the inevitably catchy chorus — and this all comes as much from the lexicon of rock and roll in general as from the specific world of metal. These are guys who love Thin Lizzy and Tom Petty as much as they love Sabbath. The EP was recorded by Ali Jafar, one of our favorite engineers in town. His Ecstattic Studio has modestly built up one of the most impressive resumes of past clients in town, and on this release lends a slightly more reverb-y and modern sound to Nightosaur.

Nightosaur will play a release show for Future Songs Monday night at Memory Lanes. Also performing are Black Sam Malone, Deep-Sea and Wax Lead. Details on the Facebook can be found here.

We’re so happy to welcome back our old friends Braver for a show tonight! The pop punk trio has a history of offering listeners an inventive and original take on the form. They’re also a great live act — and they have invited a touring band, Paper Holland, to join them. Their album Fast Food is satisfyingly catchy and hits a pop nerve here at Hymies. We’ll let you give it a listen here courtesy of their Bandcamp page.

It’s worth noting that these folks have travelled all the way from Milwaukee, so if you could drop a dollar or two into the band bucket they’d appreciate it. Either way you’re welcome tonight for a free show here in your friendly neighborhood record store. We should also mention that School for Girls will also be performing, and we’re especially excited about that because their album on Bandcamp sounds like it was written by the love child of Nick Lowe and Lydia Loveless. Give ’em a listen!

We’re happy to host live, all ages performances here in the record shop after a long delay. We’d love it if you’d check out these three amazing bands!

A lesser-known New World Gospel, possibly a companion piece to Charlie Parr’s “Jesus at the Kenmore.”

By the way, we’ll be DJing some of our favorite odd and spooky blues, folk and gospel records during Charlie’s two-night stand at the Cedar Cultural Center. To celebrate the release of his new LP Dog, Charlie will be performing acoustic the first night and electric the second night. Details on the Cedar’s website here and here. Looks like the first night is already sold out, though!

Saturday’s evening in-store performance is especially meaningful to us here at your friendly neighborhood record store. Ben Weaver was the first person to perform in our shop after we moved nearly a decade ago, and has performed here regularly ever since. His 2015 album I Would Rather Be a Buffalo was the first LP released with our name on the label, and is still one of the things we are most proud of in the long legacy of this record store.

Earlier this year he released his latest album in a CD package which contains a small book of poetry. Sees Like A River is a collaboration with Alpha Consumer and also includes spoken word pieces by Ben (his website is here). Ben has consistently participated in and led bicycle rides and advocacy while also working to support river cleanup projects.

Performing on Saturday is also an old friend of ours, Mike Munson. His knock-down foot-stomplin’ live album is one of the best-selling CDs in the history of our record store (probably because we listen to it all the time) and also one of the most underrated blues records since the millennium. After a lot of digging into the digits, we found this picture of Mike performing at our 2016 block party (with percussionist extraordinaire Mikkel Beckmen) but we couldn’t find one of the pictures we took of the crowd from the other side. Maybe somebody reading is the photographer who took that picture — we’d love to be able to share it! Mike amazed everyone that day, as he does every time he performs (and his website is here).

Regular readers here are sure to be familiar with these guys. We love them. Ben and Mike will be performing here at Hymies on Saturday evening at 5pm.

We’re pretty excited to see the Yawpers at 7th Street Entry on Friday. Their 2015 album American Man didn’t live up to the praise we’d heard poured on the trio, but this year’s Boy in a Well has become the subject of fascination around here. Why do we love this album so much? The record ostensibly tells the story of an unwanted boy abandoned in a well and is set in France during the first World War, but its not the rock opera aspirations with which we have fallen in love. In fact, we haven’t really figured out the story — but then again can you really explain the plot of Tommy without sounding dumb (bam, pun intended) or do you just like what you hear?

Boy in a Well is an absolutely magical amalgam of Americana. Rockabilly roots run alongside all the things we secretly love about hair metal. Some of the songs start or end in standard American folk music but take surprising turns along the journey. One of the things that really knocks us out about Boy in a Well is the incredibly inventive performance of drummer Noah Shomberg, who shifts genres with grace and really drives the connections which establish the album’s concept. He’s so damn good you can almost forgive them for being one of those bands without a bass. Lead singer Nathanial Cook, who turns from Jimmie Rodgers to Axl Rose as a born storyteller, couldn’t have realized his vision without Shomberg and second guitarist Jesse Parmat.

Bloodshot is releasing a 7-inch single of “Mon Dieu” from the album backed with a live recording of the band covering “Ace of Spades” next month. There will also be a comic book adaptation of the album which was previewed by Paste Magazine here. Truthfully, the ten page sample reminded us that even though we have listened to this album fifty times, we have no idea what the plot of the story is — it looks like the love child of R. Crumb’s Mr. Natural and Joe Sacco’s comic journalism and we love it.

The album was recorded by Alex Hall at Chicago’s Reliable Recorders. In the same studio Hall also captured what we think could justifiably be called one of the most beloved Minnesota records of the decade, the Cactus Blossoms’ You’re Dreaming. In addition, local legend Tommy Stinson served as producer and also contributed a “piano freakout” to the recording. The point is that these guys aren’t from here, but they should be welcomed with open arms.

Boy in a Well is maybe about a half hour long but it moves with an epic sweep in spite of Shomberg’s barrelhouse performance. Cook’s performance is so extraordinary that it is hard to believe there are not a half dozen or more vocalists on this album, and Parmat captures a true sense of everything Americana from Scotty Moore to Poison Ivy. Memorable riffs and motifs blur pass like power poles through the window of a train, and we have been entranced by the album’s epic tour of everything we love about rock and roll and all its bastard cousins.

The song we’ve sampled here is “Mon Nom,” from the second side. We couldn’t pick a favorite song from this album — in fact it was the focus of debate around here. The achingly beautiful “A Visitor is Welcomed” just wasn’t representative, nor was the mad and driven “A Decision is Made,” which precedes it. It’s just a damn good record from beginning to end, which is surprisingly rare these days. You can also hear the sweeping closer “Reunion” in its official music video here. Presumably the Yawpers will be playing many of these songs on Friday night at the 7th Street Entry. Locals the Person and the People will open. Details on the First Avenue website here.

This coming Thursday we’re circlin’ the wagons ’round a new DJ night downtown at Dalton and Wade Whiskey Commons, a new space in the north loop. They have branded our DJ night “Rockabilly and Rye” and we love it, along with the whole cowboy and home cookin’ theme of the bar.

In addition to Hymies staff, our old friend DJ Truckstash will be taking some nights as well. You may know him as the man behind the turntables at our annual block party in April. You’ll probably hear a lot more honkytonk on his nights and more rockabilly and blues on Dave’s nights. Laura’s planning to take on some nights as well as Brian Engel from Hipshakers, who plans to bring his best country jams around.

Dalton and Wade, along with our new sponsor, Fulton Beer, are donating $1 from Fulton sales to Hurricane Harvey/Hurricane Irma relief programs. We’re sure to post here about additional drink specials and giveaway deals as we get this new project rolling. In the meantime you can catch Hymies DJs at Dalton and Wade on Thursday nights from 9-12pm!

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